Gypsy curse ... playwright and performer Lally Katz.
It wasn't food poisoning and it wasn't appendicitis, but playwright and performer Lally Katz said the illness that derailed her one-woman Belvoir Street Theatre show and required urgent surgery felt as painful.
"I'm much better; I just got out of the hospital today," a spritely-sounding Katz told Fairfax Media on Thursday. "It got so crazy."
I just got out of the hospital today. It got so crazy.
Katz, 34, says she is only half joking when she blames a gypsy's curse for the illness. Two other Belvoir performers, Colin Friels and Anthony Phelan, have also suffered health crises, plunging shows into emergency measures in the past year.
End of his rope ... Colin Friels in Belvoir's Death of a Salesman last year.
Katz's show Stories I Want to Tell You in Person will now open on April 19, almost a month after its scheduled opening.
The drama began when Katz, whose show had been well received by preview audiences, woke last Saturday morning feeling unwell. The illness ultimately forced the cancellation of both weekend shows.
Her boyfriend took her to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where she stayed overnight. But it wasn't until Monday when Katz saw a female general practitioner that the condition was diagnosed.
Help with a line ... Anthony Phelan with Jacki Weaver in an earlier production, Sydney Theatre Company's Uncle Vanya, in 2010. Photo: Lisa Tomasetti
"I keep thinking I'm in a dream before opening night, and I'm going to wake up and say: 'Oh, I'm glad that wasn't real'."
But the health threat, which Katz declines to disclose, was very real. She underwent surgery at St Vincent's Private Hospital, with doctors ordering the playwright - an avid flaneur who loves to walk neighbourhoods - to rest and walk no more than 50 metres at a time.
Katz said she would spend the next week in Sydney and the following two weeks in Melbourne resting, writing and watching a box set of the TV show Battlestar Gallactica.
She jokes that, as a result, Stories I Want to Tell You in Person may be rewritten with a sci-fi ending. The play concerns Katz's forays into consulting a fortune teller and she says, half jokingly, that a gypsy may have cursed her show.
"Look, it was real medical thing that I had to have surgery, but I was saying to my boyfriend, my friends and every doctor I spoke to, 'I think I've got a curse'," said Katz.
"Maybe I tempted fate a little bit. Even if it was that [a curse], hopefully now it's satisfied," she says, laughing.
Belvoir Theatre artistic director Ralph Myers said Katz's show revolved around having been cursed, "and having this condition hasn't alleviated that sense of it in her at all", he laughs.
"She may well believe it. The beauty of Lally is she's capable of holding mutually contradictory beliefs."
Myers said patrons had been understanding about Katz's medical condition, accepting tickets for a later date rather than asking for a refund.
The downstairs theatre can accommodate the delayed season because the next production there is not scheduled until August.
"The repercussions for the company are slight, which is great," he said. "The most important thing is that Lally gets well and back on her feet."
If there is a curse, it has hit Belvoir hard in the past year.
In February, actor Anthony Phelan fell ill less than a week before he was due to play southern patriarch Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, forcing Marshall Napier to fill the role and read from the script for parts of performances.
Last August, actor Colin Friels collapsed on the Belvoir stage while playing Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman.
"That's three in a year now," laughs Myers. "I'm sort of thinking it's about time for our luck to turn.
"It's just life and that's one of the beauties of live theatre is that you never can quite tell what's going to happen.
"We've been really fortunate for a while and I suppose now it's time to have a few of these things happen to us.
"You’d think it would be three and we've had our go and the gods that control these things can go terrorise the Sydney Theatre Company or someone else."